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Testimony of Justice – Mariana Walter

In this video, Mariana Walter explains how justice matters in her work around mining conflicts in Latin America.
My name is Mariana Walter. I work at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, at the Institute of Science and technology’s Institute, and I’m a postdoctoral researcher there. Yes. I have been working basically on mining conflicts in Latin American communities that are trying to organise against the extraction of ores in their lands, right. Indigenous peasant but also urban areas that are faced with really large projects, open cast projects, that have a huge impact on their water sources, also in their access to land, and their usual activities such as agriculture or other, even industries, not all not always peasant or or indigenous uses of lands.
There’s many, many causes at different scales so, but I think one big thing, it’s I think the lack of recognition of the of the ability of local communities to have something to say, to decide in this processes, no? How, in these processes, communities are ignored. I think this is without going to the obvious, maybe criticism to global capitalism or the economic system. I think there’s an absolute misrecognition of local communities, not only indigenous and peasant communities, actually urban communities too. It’s like a patronising situation where they are told what has to be done in their land, their territories. So I think recognition is a really deep thing to be addressed.
Well, we at the Institute, we have this large mapping of environmental injustices, worldwide injustices. So we’re trying to make them visible by mapping them and communicating these cases because sometimes there is a lack of information, and people don’t know about these injustices. So we want to make them visible and also try to understand them in a systemic way. I mean these are not unique cases, isolated cases. Also to show, because some people don’t realise this is such a systemic problem - this is not only a certain community in Latin America or Africa and Asia, this is happening worldwide at a worldwide scale.
So we want also to work at this scale to show some of the trends and dimensions of this global process of injustice happening.
Well, I think there’s sometimes - if you - right now we are trying to make more visible conflict in areas are really difficult to get, because of language difficulties, or cultural difficulties. So trying to get this global visioning of conflicts, of visualisation of conflict requires a huge effort, to get to different countries with different cultures, different languages. So I think this is one of the challenges we have - to have a good coverage at the global level.
One issue would be we need to understand that there can be different futures - there’s no one solution, one answer, one alternative. We need to really let communities to develop what makes sense to them, in their context, with their culture, with the history, with their practices. So we need to, I think, we need to change a mind paradigm about - it’s like development, like we need to - it’s not only think we have best beside, behind, forward led, behind the development approach, but also we need to change ourselves to understand that there’s different possible worlds and let them happen without imposing our views, even as researchers this is a challenge.
A diverse future full of different cultures, ways of doing, ways of understanding. I think we need to yes this - understand that there is not one world but different worlds that can take place and we need to, I don’t know, think how this can happen but it’s not us. I think we need just to let that flow in this diversity - let diversity happen.

Watch this video of Mariana Walter from the Autonomous University of Barcelona explaining how justice matters in her work around mining conflicts in Latin America and local communities that are trying to organise against the extraction of ores in their lands.

She stresses the lack of recognition encountered by local communities, reducing their ability to have a voice in decision-making.

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Environmental Justice

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